WTB: Atlas TH54 Lathe

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Well-Known Member
Jan 9, 2004
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I had one of these lathes in an agreement to buy, but before I could confirm with him he sold it for what he thought was a better deal. I'm glad I didn't give him the down payment he wanted.

Basically I'm looking for a workable Atlas TH54 that needs some loving care and maybe a few replacement parts to make her run good, or one that has been kept in shape. In my search for these it seems like a lot of people keep them in their basement and they aren't getting used :(

I know the TRF family has a diverse work environment, so if anyone knows where I could find one of these lathes I would be much obliged partner :cool:

I just did a search on the Atlas TH54 lathe.

I had no idea what it was.

I did find a link to some guy that uses his to make EX rocket motors!

That is a serious piece of equipment!

I bet you got Mike Bennetts site. He flies with my club and I wasn't intending on getting a TH54 but when I found one that was reasonable I thought what the heck. Then the deal fell through but not after I had tried out a TH54 of a friends and I loved the lathe. Yes, a serious piece of equipment and my fiance just thinks I'm crazy.

thats the site I got, looks very nice. Old too, I wonder if this is the same lathe my uncle is giving to me (it is a really old lathe he picked up from my great-gradnfather) because he has no use for it. That would be pretty awesome
Most models are 1950 era. Atlas was bought by Clausing Intl and they still make parts for them. The TH54 is nice because you can use newer Timken bearings on them and replace them. Some older models have special bearings that are a lot more expensive. The total length of the lathe is 54 inches, the distance between centers is 42 inches. Belt driven...a very nice lathe.

I used to have a TV54. It was a good starter lathe. Get one with a quick change gear box if you can find one. Change gears are a PITA. You'll only get 36" between centers on this lathe, maybe a little more if you hang the tailstock off the end of the ways. Also, be sure to get a steady rest, you will need it for rocket work. Follow rests are fairly useless. Be prepared to spend lots on tooling, buying the lathe is just the beginning.
Thanks for the correction - 36 is more than enough for me. My mother in law got a ton of tools from a retired tap and die maker who owned a machine shop. I bet there are 40 boxes of very nice tools, everything from guage rods to mill accesories and bits and chucks and tapers and such. That was just one box. I am restoring them and cleaning them for her. I'm pretty sure I saw a steady rest in there, but don't know what it will fit. I have heard the lathe is 1/2 the cost- tooling is the other half. I took a class at the local community college and met a guy who has tons of tooling he will sell to me - this guy has a 2000 square foot storage unit for his tools! :eek: Thanks for the advice. I think I have found another one but the guy doesn't quite know if he wants to sell it.

That's what you think! Without a doubt, whatever size lathe you buy, it will not always be long enough. It's some kind of cosmic law.
Shhhh! If my fiance finds out that this lathe isn't big enough then I'm in trouble. One of her questions was - is this big enough or do you think you will need a bigger one in the future. :)